Guests need a quiet refuge, especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters. (At least, not anymore.)
Here are the basics to include to make a room comfy and cozy for your overnight guests:
Freshly made bed. Consider using only a fitted sheet topped by a comforter, especially if your guest has limited use of his hands (such as arthritis causes.) The comforter or duvet (a removable, washable comforter cover) replaces the bedspread and top sheet. As an added guest bonus, it's a cinch to make - just fluff and go.
Comfy pillows. Foam or down? Ask their preference.
Extra blankets. On my father's occasional overnight visits, I got into the habit of equipping the designated guest room with at least two extra throw blankets. He never again asked me whether I had the heat "hooked up" or if I felt cold.
Dresser. Clear out a couple of drawers so your overnight guests can unpack and get rid of their suitcases.
Bedside table and light. Make sure the table is close to the bed so your guests can read before drifting off. A good rule of thumb: The base of the shade should be at shoulder level while sitting up in bed. No bedside table handy? A spare chair will do in a pinch. Just set a light on it, and your guest can hang her necklaces or robe on the back.
Tissues. Allergies, colds, whatever the cause, make sure you have the solution.
Closet. Make room to hang stuff. Filled to the brim? Relocate some stuff for the weekend or week so that your guests can have things the way they like them. Stock the closet with hangers - the plastic ones you see at home stores are a great option.
Trash can. This is basic, sure, but it's too often overlooked. No one likes others to see their personal trash.
Beyond the Basics for Overnight Guests
Provide your overnight guests with room to spread out in their bedroom. Clear floors and shelves of your stuff to make room for theirs.
Chairs. A comfy place to sit invites relaxing. And that's what the visit is all about, right?
Window coverings. Install window treatments that provide privacy and light control for quality (and quantity) sleep.
An extra set of house keys. Have a few extra sets made in advance, and code them by having each set printed in a different color. Add car keys to the sets of those who might be driving while visiting. Keep a computer or written record of who has what color key set, and mark off when the sets are returned.
Security instructions. Have an alarm? Tell your overnight guests about when it is on and when it is off, and how they can tell on their own. Provide written instructions if your guests will be turning the security system on and off, and if there is a gate code or other security measures they'll need to know about in your home or neighborhood.
Nightlight. A small light is essential for overnight guests because they're not accustomed to the layout of the room or your home. It's helpful to put in a few plug-in nightlights, such as en route to the bathroom, but you should also give your guests flashlights.
Finally Let Freedom Reign for Your Overnight Guests
Finally, give overnight guests their freedom. If you have a second car, let them poke around by themselves if they feel up to it. Give them a key to the house so they can go for a walk and get back inside.
When guests are coming is a great time to nurture your kids' natural tendency to please. Have them help ready your home for guests, too. Your son can choose flowers from the garden for you to place in a bedside vase. Your daughter can create "welcome to our home" cards to leave on the dresser.
And a few days before your overnight guests arrive, go grocery shopping with the kids for the feeding frenzy ahead. And let them choose the chocolates you'll place on the guest's pillow.